Sunday, January 30, 2011


From the French Revolution to People Power in the Philippines, from Tiananmen Square in Beijing to al-Fardous Square in Baghdad, and now Tahrir Square in Cairo. History is repeating itself, this time in the Middle East. Leaders who have lost touch with the people, who have grown accustomed to life in their ivory towers and who choose to ignore the signs of widespread discontent, take heed and learn from current developments in Tunisia and Egypt. It may be their turn next.

Mohamed Bouazizi's public suicide on 17 December ignited widespread demonstrations across the Arab world, beginning with the fall of the Tunisian government and the call for Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to resign. There is now unrest in Jordan, Algeria, Oman, Sudan, Yemen and Morocco.

Self-immolation, bloodshed, chaos and destruction could have been avoided if only these leaders had seen the signs, had listened to the voice of the people.

When the poor in the country see no future, when corrupt leaders and politicians grow rich on ill-gotten gains, when thousands of young people can't find jobs, when runaway inflation takes a toll on the people, the masses will rise and take to the streets to vent their anger and frustration.

Dictators can bring in the soldiers, they can lock up protesters, they can clamp down on the media and shut down the internet, but they can never drown out the voice of the people. There will always be people who are prepared to fight or die for a cause they believe in.

After 23 years of authoritarian rule, Tunisia's president Zine-el-Abidine Ben Ali, 74, and his family have fled to Saudi Arabia. What's of interest is that his second wife, Laila, 54, a former hairdresser, is far more reviled by the people than the president. Tunisia's First Lady has been dubbed "The Regent of Carthage" for her power behind the throne, and for the wealth she has amassed for her family, the Trabelsis, the most powerful business clique in the country. Read the report about their opulent lifestyle in The Telegraph.

Malaysians should find the story somewhat familiar.

Power will always belong to the people. In a democracy, the people have the power to choose their leaders, and also the power to get rid of them. Let no President or Prime Minister (and their First Lady) be so arrogant as to assume they can hold on to their position for as long as they want. They should not forget they are PUBLIC SERVANTS, and are there to serve the people.

If leaders are corrupt or ineffective, or have long overstayed their term of office, they should resign or reform. Or they might be the next to flee to Saudi Arabia.


Anonymous said...

Shame indeed that in this 21st Century, many countries are still governed by warlords. Unfortunately Malaysia is one of them. When will Malaysians wise up to their own rights to a gomen by the rakyat, for the rakyat, BN will continue its plunder and deceit with impunity. Technology cannot progress fast enough in the kampungs where tempurungs are predominantly worn instead of proper helmets.

Unknown said...

It's both fascinating and scary to watch this history in action. Let's hope the outcome is for the best.